September and October mean one thing in Mississippi and the rest of “SEC Country”… football. If you were to ask most of the coaches of these teams what it would take to win the championship this year, many would first point to the need to stop the other team from scoring. The dynasty of Alabama just across the state line, often boasts the top defense in the country, the first pick in the NFL draft in 2017 was a defenseman, and many more examples have come out of Mississippi of young men being paid millions of dollars to tackle the other team.
Fall also means the start of another harvest for our hardworking farmers collecting their crop. These farmers hope to score a touchdown with high yields and good market prices, but they, too, have been focused on defense. Since March, row crop farmers have been defending their crop from weather, weeds, insects and disease. Livestock producers defend from predators, disease, sickness and Mother Nature, as well. Like football teams, this takes many hours of hard work through study and practice. At Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF), we take it as our mission to help our farmers, ranchers and Farm Bureau members to defend not only their commodity but also the lifestyle of agriculture.
I had the pleasure of joining our State Women’s Committee and fellow Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation staff this summer for their annual Ag in the Classroom workshop in Hernando. A second workshop was held earlier in Hattiesburg. Through this program, dozens of teachers received continuing education units and free materials to take back and help educate their students in the next school year. Part of this program was a tour of area farms to learn, feel and experience agriculture for themselves.
Former State Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee members and current DeSoto County board members Jim Sayle and Patrick Swindoll did a great job explaining the science behind what they do. These men described scenarios, where math, geometry and other areas of their education have helped them advance in their career, along with other useful facts for these educators to use in their classrooms. Once their presentations were over, the questions that followed were not about curriculum or lesson plans; rather, these teachers were more interested in knowing about what was going into their food, what life was like on the farm and what farmers were doing to the environment.
Luckily, these two men, along with the ladies of the State Women’s Committee, began to do what they always do and have been trained to do by being involved in our programs: defend. Defend the science, defend their livelihoods and defend that they are honest people who would not subject their own families to anything harmful (let alone someone else’s family).
This is just one of many examples where Farm Bureau works toward being what we hope is a dynasty of defense. MFBF defends farmers through policy. We defend farmers and consumers from misinformation and slander. We defend this industry and lifestyle from outside interest groups looking to impart their beliefs into our state. However, most importantly, we defend each individual member of this organization by letting their voice be heard through a collective group supporting the same mission via grassroots development.